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Helena high school seniors mourning potential loss of rite of passage

Posted at 4:43 PM, Apr 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-14 20:02:50-04

High school students are facing many uncertainties right now. Prom is one event that’s up in the air for schools across the country.

For students, it might become a missed rite of passage.

"Staying hopeful, because it’s not officially over," said Lauren Hanson, a senior at Capital High School in Helena. "Just hoping I’ll get a few more weeks at Capital.”

Hanson’s second semester of her senior year is different than she imagined.

“I find myself missing the littlest things, like the classroom I’ve been eating in all four years,” she said.

She also imagined attending prom with her friends.

“In one way, it hasn’t really hit me quite yet,” said Hanson, who plans to study acting at college in the fall. “Of course I’m sad. Like, oh dang, no prom? But maybe next year it will hit me really hard.”

Hanson has her dress picked out online, but she hasn’t bought it yet, prepared for the possibility of a canceled or rescheduled prom.

It would become another distinction for many students in the class of 2020.

“This is just so unprecedented, you don’t even know what to say to them,” said Linda Campbell, who runs Linda’s Bridal Images & Mr. Tux in Helena.

For her small business, prom means big business. Tuxedo rentals for teens are a large part of their annual income. Campbell estimates the rentals make up 20 to 25 percent of her yearly profits, and she typically uses that money to buy sample bridal gowns for the following year.

If proms don’t happen: "that’s just lost income,” Campbell said. "Just flat lost income."

But she also understands prom is about memories for teens. That’s why she’s interested in organizing a summer prom for students in the area, if theirs are canceled this spring.

“I don’t want them to think about their senior year and think, yeah, I didn’t get to go to prom,” she said. “I want them to think, oh yeah, I had this prom and it was awesome.”

It’s an idea Lauren also appreciates as she searches for the silver linings in her senior year.

“I’m really hopeful we’ll still have a prom, because I love school dances,” she said. “So fingers crossed!”

You can contact Linda at 406-442-4982. She said she would love to hear input from parents about potentially organizing another prom in June.

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